You have to take your time when you’re baking, but not when making icing. In the time it takes to bake an item, you can prepare a from-scratch icing or frosting in the piping bag or warm and ready to drizzle. The only difference between buttercream — best for pastry fillings and cake icings — and a powdered-sugar icing, best for cupcake glazes and other small jobs, is butter, and you can have either set to decorate well before the oven cools.

Things You'll Need


Powdered Sugar

Sift 1 cup of powdered sugar into a mixing bowl for every 1/2 cup of icing you want to make.

Drizzle milk into the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while stirring. You need 2 tablespoons of milk for a stiff icing and about 3 to 4 tablespoons of milk for a pourable icing.

Stir a drop or two of extract per cup of frosting, if desired. Vanilla works with everything; use other flavors, such as orange, lemon and cinnamon, to match the baked good as needed.


Buttercream

Sift 4 parts powdered sugar into a bowl and set it aside. You need about 4 cups of sugar to make the icing for a 9-inch cake.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat 1 part room-temperature butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until creamy using a stand-mixer or hand-mixer.

Beat in the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, with the mixer on low until it’s incorporated and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl every minute or so.

Beat in just enough milk to cream the icing; about 1 tablespoon per cup sugar should do it. Use the icing as is or store it up to 10 days in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap covering the surface.